Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Birthday Wishes For Emma...

 All she wanted was a bowl full of Bolognese, broccoli, and some homemade baguette.  I guess "B" isn't just for birthday wishes!  Her big gift is her summer at Hubbard Street, but we threw in a few super cool framed tour posters featuring some of her favorite bands and Nonna surprised her with an emerald necklace.  All in all I think Emma had a marvelous day!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sixteen Sweet Things About Emma...

1.  She talked herself into her very first ballet class at two years old even though she was a full year younger than the age requirement.  After spending  a month in the class, Emma suggested it might be a good idea if we took her to the "school where the real ballerinas go."  The rest is history.

2.  After considerable coaxing and massive interventions,  Emma Grace was born at 10:40 PM with her arm protectively placed over her perfectly shaped head.  She weighed just shy of eight pounds, but was only nineteen inches long giving her a healthy looking heft.  Her shock of black hair, rosy cheeks and "lipstick" lips made her the most beautiful baby I have ever laid eyes on.

3.  When Emma's P-SAT predicted her perfect career path it said she should be a cabinet maker.  What seemed odd at first has become far more intriguing as wood shop has proven to be one of Emma's favorite classes of all time.  She is eager to take advanced wood shop next year, but has already shown natural abilities when it comes to using power tools!  I dig a girl who can wear a tutu or a tool belt with equal flair.

4. As a precocious three year old Emma referred to her little brother as a "Balloon-a-tic" and even placed him out on the front steps like a mistreated dog to get him out of her way, but that exasperated toddler quickly grew to become an extraordinary sister and friend to her brother.  Emma and Finn  spend so much time talking and laughing together that I have no doubt they will be friends for a good long time!

5.  As part of a Mother's Day gift for her preschool class, Emma's teachers interviewed the students and each of them answered the same questions.  When asked to name their favorite restaurant the list went like this...McDonald's, McDonald's, McDonald's, McDonald's, SUSHI BAR, McDonald's, McDonald's...our girl has never had a problem being her own person!

6.  Today she sent me this photo via text with a message that said:
"This made me think of our family <3 i="">"

7. We gave Emma the middle name Grace after Leif's grandmother and the song Amazing Grace.  She looks a little like Nonna Grace and the song is the reason we call her The Amazing Emma Grace, but we had no idea at time that she would grow into a graceful dancer worthy of her name on an entirely different level.

8.  Emma's favorite flower is baby's breath.  She keeps an enormous bunch in her room at all times and does not believe this hokey filler flower needs any accompaniment in a vase.  In fact, when she was recovering from surgery several years ago her grandma had a florist deliver an arrangement of her favorite blooms; my mom said the florist was pretty darn confused by the order!
9.  Emma was obsessed with her Madeline books as a little girl.  She dressed as Madeline for Halloween and would make me pretend I was Miss Clavel when I tucked her into bed.  Who would have known her love for a sweet French story book character would morph into a serious love for all things related to Paris?  Emma is a serious French language student today and dreams of visiting the City of Light as soon as possible!

10.  Irving elementary school had party line phones and once Emma was attempting to call me at home to share some good news with me, but somehow inadvertently called 911 instead.  She was totally befuddled when the emergency operator answered and became hysterical when they told her they would have to dispatch police and firefighters to the school because of her error. Principal Hodge spent the better part of an afternoon consoling Emma until the sirens and flashing lights subsided.  See, even her most embarrassing moments are kind of sweet!

11.  Around the age of four, Emma collected glitter for months on end and kept it hidden in a corner under a step stool.  Every time we purchased a jar of sparkles for an art project she would secretly dump the whole thing out into her precious pile.  She probably amassed a gallon of glitter before we cleaned it all up and truthfully I still even find some rogue specks of glitter around the house twelve years later!  She sure does add sparkle to our lives!

12.  When Emma was in fourth grade she successfully auditioned for and secured a role as the Chinese Girl Doll in the Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker.  In subsequent years she portrayed a snow tree angel and a party boy, but seeing her on that big Auditorium theater stage dressed as a teeny tiny doll fighting those giant mice was about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

13.  During  middle school Emma spent four weeks at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp as part of their ballet ensemble and she also discovered her love of candy.  Lots of folks sent her care packages filled with sweet treats and she came home with more than a couple cavities.  Nowadays she prefers to bake home-made treats and always keeps her toothbrush close at hand.

14. Geminis are often contradictory creatures and Emma is no exception...she a logician and a hopeless romantic...she is both artistically and scientifically inclined...she is equally comfortable being the center of attention at a party as she is curling up with good book.

15. Emma spent a dreamy day at the UIC anatomy lab where she communed with cadavers just for fun.  Perhaps she had watched one too many episodes of Bones (one of her favorite shows of all time), but she kept on exclaiming things like... "And then I got to hold the lungs!"  Emma reminds us everyday that being sweet doesn't mean she isn't tough and brave.

16.  And the Amazing Emma Grace puts the SWEET in sweet sixteen today!

Happy Happy Birthday!
Our lives are forever better for having met you sixteen years ago today!
We love you.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

And so it begins...

Nothing could kick off Emma's birthday week better than a surprise lunch in the city with one of her besties!  Mad and Em hopped on the train in the morning and spent some time wandering on the Mag Mile before Mad treated Emma to a bowl full of pasta and some birthday cake at Rosebud in the afternoon.  

Nothing but a great friend and a sweet treat can bring a smile like this one to my girl's face.
love it.

At the Table...

Pretty fare for some beautiful guests.
Love. My. Life.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My new vase...

...made by Leif.
How cute is this?
Leif went on a retreat recently where there were a good number of artistic activities he was asked to participate in.  I've had his painting posted on the fridge for weeks, but I had to wait until today to get the  custom designed vase he made for me in pottery class. Shhh...I found out the hard way that it doesn't hold water, but I found a little glass cup that fits inside perfectly so I can still use it. 
The darn thing delights me on every level.

Sunny Pup...

 For as much as our little dog hates the cold she surely does love to be hot.  Little Lu will lay in the sun for hours on end!  Her favorite spot is located on the back steps right next to my potted herbs.  It almost looks like she is taking a mini vacation when she takes to sun bathing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

1 of the 60 over 60...

Look, I told you it was only a matter of time before Nancy took over the Village of Oak Park!
So with less than a year of residency under her belt it should come as no surprise that she was named to the 60 over 60 list. We are so proud of her and seeing her face plastered all over the newspapers in the past week has been such a joy.  Congrats, Nancy...what a well deserved honor!


In the middle of his game on Sunday, Finn pulled his hamstring and had to come out.  He'll be sidelined for a least a week and could not be more upset about it.  He is icing and compressing his injured thigh and hoping he'll be back on the pitch in a week or so.  Such an end of season bummer!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Morning Blooms...

What a glorious morning display on my deck!  
I have never seen a hibiscus with quite this many blooms at one before.
It is stunning.

Tot on a Silver Spoon...

You know there has to be a story behind a tater tot coming out of my kitchen!  This little nibble was a tongue and cheek homage to a kitchen companion of mine who informed me that, "a tater tot offers a point of accessibility in an otherwise elaborate menu."  His wise words were not lost on me and my dinner guests last night found this parmesan and white truffle tot on a silver spoon to quite an amusing amuse!

New Landscape...

 I've wanted to replace our front landscaping for a couple of years and we finally did it this week!  Gone are those overgrown lilacs replaced by a neat row of conical boxwood, three white hydrangeas, a delicate dogwood and a Korean Spice Viburnum. We still need to figure out the perennials in the front portion of the bed, but that will have to wait until autumn.  I am sure it will be fun to watch it grown in over the years, but I am just happy as can be about how it looks already.

 We've been working hard on the back yard and it is looking good, but our Japanese Maple struggled to come back to life this spring.  We've cut it down in the hopes it will regenerate.  Our hopes are pinned on this little cluster of leaves.  Fingers crossed!  The tree was a gift from my mom and I would to keep it for as long as possible!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Glimpse into Three Sisters

In addition to managing her regular schedule, Emma managed to fit in performing as the dancer in OPRF's little theater production of Anton Chekov's exsitential drama, Three Sisters.  She had a great time playing her small part in the play and most especially loved bonding with the cast!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


The Red Wedge got around this fellow in four quick moves.
Love it.

Our Moms...

The moment Leif and I  became parents ourselves our love for our own mothers grew ten fold. We appreciate the differences in the way we were raised, marvel at the similarities and take pride in the fact that we have such a wealth of wisdom to rely on when it comes to parenting our own kids.  By looking to each of these intelligent,  loving and devoted women we've been able to strike a balance in our parenting that honors them both in more ways than they could ever know.  This picture was taken on the day Emma was born and it has always been one of my favorites.  
The look of grand-motherly love in their eyes is pure perfection to me.
Happy mother's day to our amazing moms.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Food Truck Rally...

 This afternoon in true Oak Park style, Pilgrim Community Church opened their parking lot to welcome a slew of Chicago's most popular Food Trucks.  The inaugural Food Truck Rally was more than well attended and lines were long, but the wait went by quickly because of all the familiar faces in the crowd. Even though some of the trucks struggled to keep up with the orders, sitting in a church parking lot has never been so delicious!  Check out some goodies we tried today...

Jerk chicken and Meat Patty

The Great Dane: American and Cheddar Cheese with Applewood Smoked Bacon on Panini 
The Chef's Choice:  Duck Bacon, Provolone,Spinach,Arugula, Sicilian Tomatoes, and Aioli on Panini
The Hannah Banana: Deep Fried Nutella, Banana Puree and Marshmallow Fluff on Panini 

Let me just say...I wouldn't hate it if this became a regular occurrence around town!

Friday, May 10, 2013


Check it out!  The Finnman opted to have his long hair cut very very short.  Leif and I were surprised and totally delighted by his decision.  Finn said he felt a little nervous while he was getting it done, but was thrilled with the results.  Is it just me or does he look a lot older now?

Thursday Night with an International Flair

KINDRED spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.
It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
― L.M. Montgomery 

 Yesterday evening I hosted an internationally themed seven course meal as part of a donation I made to a local nursery school.  Highlighted countries included France, Germany, Russia, Japan, Equador, Denmark and the good old USA because each destination had a special meaning to one guest at the table.  I just loved coming up with the various dishes on the menu!
 france/egg. maple. chive. cream. citrus. arpege inspired
germany/brezel.  radish. onion. camembert. hefeweizen. caraway. beirgarten inspired
russia/reimagined. beets. gruyere. sherry vinegar. marcona. bomboloni. borscht inspired
japan/ chicken. ginger. sweet. spicy. garlic. gyoza inspired
equador/camaron. tomato. lime. orange. cilantro. patacones. ceviche inspired
denmark/dansk. frickadeller. smørrebrød. rødkål. lingonberries. dorothy inspired
usa/ something in a jar. cake. kind of. lemon. blueberry. buckle inspired

I stand by every dish I served last night, but man-o-man this little ode to Denmark delighted me in every way.  Something about all those berries, hints of cardamom and robust red cabbage worked like a dream to bring some of my favorite Danish flavors to life!
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